FORMER Hearts chairman Leslie Deans has called on the Scottish Professional Football League to "impose" reconstruction if a majority of clubs want it.

The lawyer has warned that the alternative could mean lengthy litigation which could delay the start of the Scottish Premiership, threaten Scottish clubs' participation in European competition and eventually cost £8million.

After earlier reconstruction attempts fell at an early stage, the SPFL hierarchy has proposed a permanent 14-10-10-10 set-up featuring two extra teams in the Premiership and in the league itself.

Clubs have been given until 10am on Monday to cast their indicative votes with a general meeting to follow seven days later if enough support exists.

Hearts, Partick Thistle and Stranraer will be consigned to relegation if the proposal does not have the backing. The bar is set high. Eleven of the 12 Premiership clubs need to vote in favour along with 17 of the top 22 clubs in total and 75 per cent of the league overall.

Reconstruction attempts initially fell because a number of top-flight clubs did not want a temporary fix which would leave them open to mass relegation in two years' time. But the likes of Aberdeen and Ross County have previously indicated they were not in favour of permanent change.

Hearts, Thistle and Stranraer were relegated as a result of the decision by clubs to end the season early amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Hearts now face the prospect of waiting until October for their next game while the SPFL targets an August 1 date for the Premiership kick-off. The Championship season could be reduced to 27 matches instead of the usual 36.

Thistle are in doubt over whether League One will start at all next season as the costs of playing behind closed doors and testing players and staff for COVID-19 have created major uncertainty among lower league clubs.

In a statement on Saturday, the Jags, who were two points adrift with a game in hand when football was suspended, warned of "long term and serious" harm to their club if reconstruction failed and pleaded with their fellow clubs to "do no harm".

Hearts owner Ann Budge has consistently stated she would pursue legal action if her club were denied their top-flight status.